The Ice Age Returns

Istapp

One of 2010’s best albums was the debut of Swedish melodic black metallers Istapp. Blekinge is a catchy, icy romp that pays homage to the countrymen’s history of black metal with an ear for melody. It wasn’t a typical release for Metal Blade Records, but instead of marketing that fact the label offered the band little to no promotion and then promptly dropped them when the album didn’t sell well.

I had assumed that was it for Istapp but now, five years later, it seems the band has reformed as a duo and is set to release their follow-up on Trollzorn Records. Frostbiten has been completely recorded, and the band offered a sneak peak. It’s very similar to what they were doing before, but such a triumphant sound is very worthy of more exploration. I’ll be sure to keep you updated when more information or music comes available.

Battle Metal

Battle Metal

Singing of the glory of battle and the triumphs of war is a trope as old as metal itself. But for a small group of bands, war is a daily occurrence. Right now around the world there are metal fans and musicians alike living in countries torn apart by unrelenting carnage. But instead of being consumed by the horrors and hardship, they channel their emotions into the art they create.

Ukraine’s most influential metal band is back after their longest gap between albums. A Furrow Cut Short is set for release on April 20th, marking the first time Drudkh has gone more than two years without new material since they formed. “Till Foreign Ground Shall Cover Eyes” is available for streaming, and it sees the band returning to their more hypnotic mid-period sound as opposed to the post-rock leanings of late.

 

The same day as their Ukranian brethren put out the above, their biggest proteges in Khors are also releasing an album dedicated to their country’s current hardships. Oddly, there has been absolutely no press release from the band or label about the new album called Night Falls Onto The Fronts of Ours but the track “Following The Ways of Blood” is available for streaming and purchase. The layered, majestic take on black metal sounds like a true return to form.

1,000 miles south of the fighting in Eastern Ukraine rages one of the longest and most horrific civil wars in modern history. Syria has been consumed by battles between the government and various rebel factions, including the now infamous Islamic State and the Al Qaeda backed Al-Nusra. What started as a group of protests during the Arab Spring quickly became a bloody quagmire with no end in sight four years later. But surprisingly there is still something of a metal scene in the war-torn region. A group of metalheads led by 24-year-old Monzer Darwish have been documenting how their lives have been changed by the fighting, and the struggle to keep playing music as a distraction to the horrors around them. An extended trailer for the documentary, Syrian Metal Is War, was posted at the beginning of February. Worryingly, the video has since been removed from Youtube and there has been no word from the filmmakers since then. Attempts to contact them via social media and email have been met with silence.

Until we learn their fate, we can still support their cause by checking out some of the bands featured in the film. Netherion play a slick, modern form of death metal saturated with lyrics filled with frustration and sadness about the current state of their country. Duo Theoria play epic, atmospheric black metal that fits perfectly into the style that The Alchemist’s Cave is based on. That both of these bands wrote and recorded full albums in the midst of war is a stunning testament to their will and the all-consuming power of heavy metal.

An Ailment and a Cure

Just as we were reminiscing about the greatness of Ludicra, it seems they are partially being brought back to life. Christy and Laurie started a new band called Ails that carries the spirit and torch of the Bay Area greats. The band posted the following demo on Soundcloud with little information or fanfare, but it’s absolutely mesmerizing. The familiar vocals are as comforting as they are deranged and the song twists and turns as you would expect from the fretboard magicians. Other than the two members, nothing is known about the band at this time. It’s tough not to get too excited about this, but it’s a welcome piece of news from a band that ended much too soon.